Wizz Air is ramping up operations for the summer peak and expects to return to full pre-pandemic capacity in August.
The Hungarian budget carrier incurred a €114.4 million loss in the three months to June as it operated just a third of capacity due to internatonal travel curbs.
However, chief executive Joszef Varadi revealed the airline was recuiting 600 crew as part of the return to normal operations.
“With that we expect aircraft utilisation to increase to 10 hours per day, getting closer to our pre-pandemic flying times of 12-plus hours per day,” he said.
“In July and August 2021 we expect to operate around 90% and 100% of our 2019 capacity, respectively, making Wizz Air the first major European airline to fully recover capacity to pre-Covid-19 levels.
“While we remain cautious with making predictions for the winter period amid unpredictable government decision making we are absolutely confident in our much improved competitive positions in the short, mid and long term arising from continuous fleet growth based on new aircraft deliveries, an extended market footprint as well as structural cost advantages arising from fleet up-gauging, improved commercial arrangements with airports and not being trapped in debt burden contrary to the vast majority of the industry.”
He admitted that the carrier’s first quarter remained challenging as it operated just 33% of its available capacity as restrictions continued to be a major barrier to international travel.
“Through the quarter we did see encouraging recovery patterns in passenger air travel,” Varadi added. “People began returning to flying despite mobility restrictions still impacting travel. We carried 3 million passengers during the quarter, more than four times the number we carried in the same period of last year. As the quarter progressed we deployed higher levels of capacity with June operating 62% of 2019 available seat kilometres.
“We have now entered a busy part of the summer, ramping up our operations to meet increased demand whilst maintaining operational flexibility to deal with evolving travel restrictions as a result of Covid-19 developments, particularly with respect to new variants.
“As we ramp up our operations we continue to be supported by our dedicated crew and colleagues who have demonstrated agility and resilience even in the most uncertain and volatile times of ever changing schedules and expectations.”
He admitted that new arm Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Wizz Air UK have been impacted by stricter mobility restrictions, yet each has seen “gradual improvement” in traffic, particularly along travel corridors to destinations on government approved lists.
Varadi said: “We remain strategically disciplined on cost and we continue our fleet renewal, redelivering two A320ceo aircraft with 180 seats and taking deliveries of six new A321neos with 239 seats, that sets our fleet average seat per aircraft at 207 seats.
“The accelerated renewal of our fleet will continue to benefit Wizz Air versus other competitors on every cost line, including on fuel, even more so in the current environment where carbon-efficiency is increasingly critical.”